New Zealand media reacts to Ireland defeat: ‘It’s now increasingly difficult to see how the coaching team can survive’

John O’Sullivan looks at the press reaction as Ireland beat the All Blacks in second Test

A black pall hung over local media reaction to Ireland’s 23-12 victory over New Zealand at the Forsyth Barr stadium in Dunedin the level of introspection and hand wringing did not leave much scope for any magnanimity when it came to acknowledging the merit of the visitors’ win.

Instead, New Zealand media crosshairs were largely trained on All Blacks head coach Ian Foster and the suggestion that the laws that saw New Zealand lose wing Leicester Fainga’anuku and prop Ofa Tuungafasi to yellow cards and replacement prop Angus Ta’avao receive a red card, are an ass so to speak, based on a rather subjective or narrow view of some commentators.

Liam Napier, writing in the New Zealand Herald, was particularly salty about the home side’s defeat. Under the headline ‘117 years in the making: Ireland earn historic victory over the All Blacks,’ he described how “Ian Foster’s men fought gallantly but as the match wore on and fatigue set in, attacking errors compounded as they attempted to launch an improbable comeback.”

He wrote that “Ireland made hard work of their significant advantage,” before taking a swipe at the officials and the laws that left New Zealand short-handed. “South African referee Jaco Peyper — and rugby’s increasingly polarising rules — then took centre stage during a first half that lurched from the dramatic to the farcical.”


Peyper dished out four cards — three to the All Blacks (two yellows, one red) and one yellow for Irish lock James Ryan. Napier was not happy with any of the cards but reserved his greatest displeasure for the red.

“Ta’avao, while replacing Tuungafasi, was the most unfortunate of the All Blacks trio dismissed after being sent off for an accidental head clash on Ringrose.

“Ta’avao had no intent in the attempted tackle but the way the rules are policed the clash left him at the mercy of the officials and, ultimately, forced the All Blacks to scrap one man short for 50 minutes. Unlike Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship, the July and November tests do not allow for a 20-minute red card replacement.”

Others took a less supportive view of New Zealand’s defeat. Gregor Paul, writing in the same paper and under the headline ‘It’s time for change — the All Blacks have lost their way,’ wrote: “The All Blacks took one step forward last week, they took at least two if not three back in Dunedin and while their list of faults was long and comprehensive, the nuts and bolts of their demise could be summed up by saying they lacked physicality and imagination.

“The All Blacks were passive and insipid, saved from humiliation only by their miraculous scrambling defence which was brilliant. But the All Blacks can’t survive in the rarefied air of test rugby by spending most of the game on their own goal line and given their recidivist offending in the art of muscling up, it is now increasingly difficult to see how the coaching team can survive.”

Richard Knowler (New Zealand’s Stuff sports website), under the headline ‘Soul-searching begins for All Blacks coach after historic loss to Ireland,’ stated that: “It’s not often the All Blacks stand accused of being an ill-disciplined rabble.

“On the evidence of what unfolded during their 23-12 loss to Ireland in Dunedin on Saturday night, you could imagine even the most cunning of lawyers chewing their sleeves with anxiety as they prepared to defend the All Blacks of such an egregious charge.

Addressing the discipline issues must be done with urgency. There could be few complaints about the red card to replacement prop Angus Ta’avao, and yellows to wing Leicester Fainga’anuku and tighthead prop Ofa Tuungafasi in the first half of the test at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

“A golden rule in the modern game is to not give the referee and television match official reasons to see if there are mitigating circumstances when reviewing footage of an incident. The three carded All Blacks didn’t do that. None of this is good for coach Ian Foster who, once again, must be prepared to feel the heat for a substandard performance.”

One of the few to break from the All Black introspection and acknowledge Ireland’s performance was the Otago Daily Times, Hayden Meikle. He wrote: “The marvellous rugby tourists have made history by winning their first test against the All Blacks in New Zealand.

“They delivered a swaggering performance of physicality and drive to win the second test 23-12 and send the series to a potentially thrilling decider in Wellington.” Indeed.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer